i have an issue with people who talk about the fact that we had them down on the 1...but even then, what were the chances that we were even going to get that? i mean how good had our rookie punter been to that point? how trustworthy had he been? and then our special teams unit? not exactly a proven corps there. were they not one of the worst in the league? what are the chances that they were going to be able to stop the ball on the one yard line? miniscule.
it was a bad idea because of the personnel they had on the field in STs and on defense. it was a bad call because they weren't doing well. they were the weakest aspects of that team. they were the weakest of the three phases and instead of going for the closest thing to a sure thing, we gave it to them.
and we did it quite often this year. the players should have been able to carry out their assignments, but the coaching staff should have known they were limited in their ability to carry them out as had been proven quite often. you play to your strengths. we didn't.
I was thinking much the same as you when he called the punt. It might be the textbook thing to do but given how we had dominated in short distance situations and how our defensive secondary had been prone to giving up big plays we should go for it. I kept thinking, Belicheck would have gone for it. He has faith in his offense that they will make the play. And they do most times. Obviously Rivera doesn't trust his offense to get the first down. You know all the Atlanta fans breathe a sign of relief when we bring on the punting squad. When we punted, I was expecting a touchback, so when we downed it on the 1, I thought, Okay maybe it wasn't as crappy a decision as I thought. Surely the way we pressured them all day, they wouldn't have time for a huge play. One sack here and it gets tough to move the ball in time. Then we rush 3 and play a loose prevent zone and I am livid when White comes down with the ball. Calm down, I think, Okay, if we really pressure them we should be able to hang on and at least make it a long attempt. Stunned, I watched us still play a loose zone and we don't even protect the out of bounds where we know they are going to throw in order to preserve the clock. They march right down and kick an easy field goal. Awful.....
If that would have been the extent of it, I could have been okay. Not good, given it was Atlanta and we had them by the nuts and let them go. But okay. What was not okay, was that we caved late which presaged some games that followed, where we were passive and strayed away from doing the things we did all day on defense to put ourselves in a good position.
When we went on a mini run you could tell the defense was tougher as we played more man coverage and actually denied the ball and defended the pass instead of waiting for them to catch it and "limiting" them to a 15 yard completion. Quarterbacks had to go to more than their first read and it allowed time for our rush to get there. Linebackers did a better job of limiting the dumpoffs and screens to short gains. We remained decent against the run despite losing Edwards in the middle.
Hopefully Rivera has learned that if you want to play Jim Johnson ball you live and die by the blitz and the pressure you can generate. You have to stay aggressive and dictate to the offense instead of the other way around. If he still hasn't learned that by now, I don't know what to say.